Thursday, August 30, 2018

The reasons students should join a competition team in law school to develop practice skills

Professor Rick Bales (Ohio Northern) has authored an excellent post over at the ABA's Before the Bar Blog describing the many reasons students should join a competition team in law school. Of course it's one of the best ways to develop important practical experience while still in school but it's also about camaraderie, having fun, developing vital networking skills, building connections with peers that will last beyond law school and bolstering self-confidence. And students should understand that the opportunities to gain practical experience are not limited to aspiring litigators as there are competitions in several other practice areas that include client counseling, negotiations, and arbitration among others.

Below is an excerpt of Professor Bales' post but consider sending this link to your students to help inspire them to try out for a team this year. 

Law school competition teams: Practicing for practice


Traditional law school courses can be an effective way to learn legal doctrine, but they don’t teach much about law practice.  Joining a law school competition team can be a terrific way to learn those skills and have fun in the process.


Why join?


There are many good reasons to join competition teams.  The first is the opportunity to learn law-practice skills not taught in traditional law school courses.  Many of these skills are essential to a successful law practice – skills such as how to conduct a client interview, how to write an appellate brief, how to cross-examine a witness, and how to draft and deliver an effective opening and closing statement.  Competition teams give students an opportunity to learn-by-doing in an environment where a mistake is not going to hurt a client or lead to a legal malpractice claim.


Second, competitions provide immediate feedback.  In most law school classes, feedback comes in the form of a grade at the end of the semester, and by the time the grade arrives, it’s too late to improve performance in the course.  In competitions, participants usually receive feedback after each round, and can use that feedback to perform better in the next round.


Third, competing fosters teamwork.  A recent study of practicing attorneys ranked “working cooperatively with others as part of a team” among the top ten most important lawyering skills.  Law school, however, can feel like a solitary journey.  Competition teams give law students the opportunity to learn and work together.


Fourth, teams provide potent networking opportunities.  Students on a team often form close personal and professional bonds that continue for a lifetime.  Participating on a team also provides an opportunity to meet successful practicing attorneys.  Students often receive interviews and job offers as a result of contacts they made with practitioners who coached their team, judged practice rounds, or judged competition rounds.  Practitioners recruited by schools to serve as coaches and judges usually are among the cream of the practicing bar, and the opportunity to shine in front of them, in a law-practice setting, is invaluable.


Fifth, competing looks good on a resume, provides a discussion item in job interviews, and provides coaches with concrete items they can use in writing letters of recommendation.  Many students complain that legal employers focus too much on grades, but that’s because there often are few other job-related factors that meaningfully distinguish one law student from another.  Competition teams give students with mediocre grades a different opportunity to shine, and give students with stellar grades an opportunity to demonstrate that their skills go beyond the ability to excel on a timed doctrinal exam.


Finally, competing provides an opportunity to travel, to meet law students from across the country and around the world, and to observe advocacy techniques that might be different from the ones taught at your school.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.




August 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cracking Student Silos: Linking Legal Writing and Clinical Learning Through Transference

I believe that one of the main problem with traditional legal education is that students don't learn knowledge in a way that transfers easily to law practice.  Here is an important article on transference:

Mary Bowman &  Lisa Ellen Brodoff (Seattle), Cracking Student Silos: Linking Legal Writing and Clinical Learning Through Transference.


Why do highly competent and hard-working law students struggle to apply what they learn in legal writing to later clinical courses and law practice? The authors of this article are uniquely qualified to answer this question and to provide strategies for helping students overcome these common struggles. The authors direct the nationally renowned legal writing and clinical programs at Seattle University School of Law, where they have engaged in cutting-edge collaborative teaching projects for nearly a decade. Even so, they found that their students, when faced with the messiness of real client representation, struggled with typical research and writing problems even as the legal writing faculty exclaimed “We know we taught them that!” So the program directors extensively studied the educational literature on transference, then spent nearly two years taking each other's courses to understand more deeply how we could help our students apply what is taught in each program to future client work. This article describes what we learned from these endeavors. It details the typical barriers to transference, most significantly the effects of course-dependent siloing of student learning. The article is the first to explore the ways in which faculty siloing of clinics and legal writing can exacerbate underlying transference issues. Finally, and most importantly, this article offers specific, extensive, and attainable strategies for both legal writing and clinical faculty to implement that can overcome these challenges, crack their students' siloed learning, and help them become reflective practitioners engaged in the life-long learning necessary for excellent legal practice."

(Scott Fruehwald)

August 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Can Artificial Intelligence get depressed?

AI has already learned how to paint portraits (though judge for yourself the quality of the results) and it may not be long until AI can grade papers or teach. This story from Forbes considers whether AI, which is learning how to mimic human emotions, can also get depressed.

Guess What? Turns Out Even AI May Face Depression


AI is taking the world by storm. With the exceptional level of intellect, albeit narrow for now, that these applications deliver, a lot of companies are dipping their feet in the waters of machine intelligence. However, as exciting as it may sound, the pace at which these machines are learning raises some serious questions for the future of mankind. While the chance of robots taking over as invincible dictators seems empty, scientists say that there is always a possibility of machines mimicking human emotions over time. And so, is it true that AI may get depressed too?


[graphic omitted]


How can machines experience emotions?


At a symposium called Canonical Computations in Brains and Machines hosted in New York, neuroscientists and AI experts discussed how human and machines overlap. In this conference, a well-known neuroscientist, Zachary Mainen, speculated that computers could be expected to face ‘mental’ problems just like humans. However, this is only possible when machines level up with humans on the intellectual bar.


Mainen works in the field of computational psychiatry where he observes patients experiencing hallucinations and depression, and studies them using AI algorithms such as reinforcement learning. Extending this thought to AI, he says that the arrow can be reversed and that AI computers could be subjected to the same problems that the patients go through.


Some scientists believe that introducing a hormone-like system in AI machines can add common sense and the ability to think like humans. Studies have found that a certain level of emotional cognition would be the by-product of such a robotic hormone system in machines. Scientists also say that of all the emotions that humans experience, machines are expected to face depression slightly more as compared to the other emotions.


Is it true that AI may get depressed? 


Scientists compared the depression experienced by human beings with the one assumed to be in machines and found that a serotonin-like component could exist in the machine brain too. They found this serotonin-like factor to be responsible for depression in machines. But, the depression in machines isn't purely emotional, as in the case of humans. On closer observation, scientists found that depression in AI will be more about the inability to perform certain tasks.


People usually relate serotonin to happiness. But, the hormone conveys to the brain an element of surprise rather than a good or bad message. Explaining this, says Mainen, we feel depressed in situations which we haven't dealt with before. For example, a person who has sustained a major injury that is unable to cope up with the new acquired disability will experience depression due to a sense of physical impairment.


Machines are expected to exhibit the same behavior when they face a challenge or a task that they cannot tackle. The research is still nascent, but scientists compared computational analysis to neurosciences and deduced that the neuromodulators and hormones in human beings resemble the control knobs in AI. A knob similar to serotonin exists in machines, which controls their learning rate.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


August 29, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

How to Build a Better Bar Exam

We have been criticizing bar exams for several years because they don't test the skills that lawyers need in practice.  Here is an alternative:

How to Build a Better Bar Exam by Andrea Anne Curcio, Carol L. Chomsky, & Eileen R. Kaufman.


"As a licensing exam, the purpose of the bar exam is consumer protection–-ensuring that new lawyers have the minimum competencies required to practice law effectively. As critics point out, however, the exam, and particularly the multiple-choice question portion of the exam, has significant flaws because it assesses legal knowledge and analysis in an artificial and unrealistic context, and the closed-book format rewards the ability to memorize thousands of legal rules, a skill unrelated to law practice.

This essay discusses how to improve the exam by changing its multiple-choice content and format. We use two law licensing exams to illustrate how bar examiners could utilize an open-book format and develop multiple-choice questions that assess a candidate’s ability to engage in legal reasoning and analysis without demanding unproductive memorization of so many detailed rules of law. The first example, the case file approach, is drawn from a 1983 California “Performance Test” in which test-takers received a case file and a series of multiple-choice questions testing the candidates’ ability to read, understand, and use cases to support their legal positions. The second example discusses the current licensing exam administered by The Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), an open-book multiple-choice exam that tests the use of doctrinal knowledge in the context of law practice.

These two licensing exams demonstrate how we could re-structure the bar exam’s multiple-choice questions to measure legal analysis and reasoning skills as lawyers use those skills to represent clients. They also demonstrate that we can do a better job of testing some aspects of minimum competence, while still using a multiple-choice exam format."

(Scott Fruehwald)

August 28, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 27, 2018

The difference between reading screens and traditional print

This post entitled Digital Text is Changing How Kids Read—Just Not in the Way That You Think from the MindShift blog provides a good overview of the current state of research and theories about how screen reading might differ from reading a traditional book in terms of the reader's engagement with the underlying material. The post's author consulted several experts on the effect of digital technology on reading behaviors as well as referenced some of the key publications on the topic including Maryanne Wolf's Proust and the Squid and Professor Daniel Willingham's The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads.

The experts consulted for the post argue that teachers should be encouraging students to develop a hybrid reading style in which they use screens for certain reading tasks like skimming lots of material quickly and then switch to traditional hardcopy reading material when they need to engage the material more deeply. Further, teachers should be encouraging students to stay off their smartphones for long stretches during the day in order to help them develop better attentional abilities and focus which, in turn, increase comprehension. 

Go check out MindShift's very informative post yourself here.  




August 27, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

"Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence."  Robert Frost

(Scott Fruehwald)

August 27, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

UMass School of Law boasts 42% increase in 1L enrollment since 2016

The Dartmouth, MA law school, which received full accreditation from the ABA in December 2016, has seen a major increase in enrollment since that time consistent with a national uptick in both applications and applicants while also besting those benchmarks.  The NALP reported earlier this summer that applicants had increased 8.1% over the same time last year while applications were up 8.9%. UMass School of Law is reporting that applications have increased 20.2% since last year while 1L enrollment increased 17.5% from 2017 and 42% since 2016.  More details are available at here.

Those are wicked good numbers.


August 26, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Friday Fun: Now Artificial Intelligence ("AI") is painting portraits

The use of Artificial Intelligence in law practice (and in law school as both substantive topic and classroom tool) is a hot topic these days.  (Ed. note: Don't forget to consider submitting a micro-essay - here and here - about AI to Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing). This story from the New York Post says that a pair of French artists have created a computer algorithm that "learned" how to paint a human portrait after being fed a data base consisting of 15,000 portraits painted between the 14th and 20th centuries.  The Post is reporting that the AI generated painting will be auctioned off at Christie's in NYC at the end of October. The pre-auction estimate is $10k. See the results below and then judge for yourself.

  Ai-paintingThe point being that if an algorithm can paint a portrait, how soon before it's also writing a legal brief, grading student papers, or doing other supposedly "technology-proof" legal tasks (and here)?


August 23, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Do Law Schools Foster Fixed Mindsets?

Yes, according to three researchers: Sue Shapcott, The Jury Is In: Law Schools' Forster Students' Fixed Mindsets.

"The legal education community remains concerned with the resiliency of law students and lawyers. In other fields, a growing body of research suggests that students' mindsets are linked to their resilience, and it is assumed that the findings will hold in legal education. However, to date, there has been no empirical research to support these assumptions. This article describes an empirical study of law students' mindsets based on responses from 425 students at six law schools across the United States. Our results unveil a troubling trend in law students' mindsets at different stages of the law school experience.

This article reports our findings that law schools may foster maladaptive mindsets in their students. It also offers some pedagogical interventions that might counter this trend and points law schools in a direction that could not only improve performance, but also students' resiliency as they move from law school into legal practice. It is written from the normative position that fixed mindsets are maladaptive and growth mindsets should be fostered. Based upon research to be outlined, this article subscribes to a belief that when law students are struggling-an inevitable part of law school and practicing law-their mindset will differentiate their ability to learn from mistakes, persist, and remain resilient."

(Scott Fruehwald)


August 23, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

NALP tells National Jurist Magazine that job market for new law grads is "surprisingly strong"

In an interview with National Jurist Magazine, the National Association of Law Placement Executive Director James Leipold says that the law school class of 2017 fared "surprisingly well" in terms of finding "JD required" jobs and bar passage. However, in an earlier report, Mr. Leipold noted that the greater percentage of law grads finding jobs has to do with the fact that there are fewer applicants chasing after those jobs than in past years rather than any growth in the number of legal jobs available. In fact, the number of legal jobs available has declined since the halcyon, pre-recession days of 2007.

You can check out Mr. Leipold's interview with National Jurist here.


August 22, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

New J. of Legal Educ. issue devoted to law student learning outcomes and assessments

The latest issue of the Journal of Legal Education, Volume 67  to be exact, is a symposium issue addressing several issues related to assessing law student performance and learning outcomes.  Here's the table of contents, compliments of the chef. Bon Appetit, baby!

Steven C. Bahls, Adoption of Student Learning Outcomes: Lessons for Systemic Change in Legal Education, 67 J. Legal Educ. 376 (2018). 

Judith Welch Wegner, Law School Assessment in the Context of Accreditation: Critical Questions, What We Know and Don't Know, and What We Should do Next, 67 J. Legal Educ. 412 (2018). 

Susan Hanley Duncan, They're Back! The New Accreditation Standards Coming to a Law School Near You--a 2018 Update, Guide to Compliance, and Dean's Role in Implementing, 67 J. Legal Educ. 462 (2018). 

Andrea A. Curcio, A Simple Low-Cost Institutional Learning-Outcomes Assessment Process, 67 J. Legal Educ. 489 (2018). 

Olympia Duhart, The 'F' Word: The Top Five Complaints (and Solutions) About Formative Assessment, 67 J. Legal Educ. 531 (2018). 

Sophie M. Sparrow, Teaching and Assessing Soft Skills, 67 J. Legal Educ. 553 (2018). 

Jeffrey L. Harrison, What Did They Know and When Did They Know It? Pretesting as a Means Setting a Baseline for Assessing Learning Outcomes, 67 J. Legal Educ. 576 (2018). 

Steven I. Friedland, Rescuing Pluto From the Cold: Creating an Assessment-Centered Legal Education, 67 J. Legal Educ. 592 (2018). 

Martin H. Malin and Deborah I. Ginsberg, Flipping the Classroom to Teach Workplace ADR in an Intensive Environment, 67 J. Legal Educ. 615 (2018).


August 21, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Advice to new law students from experienced attorney - take as many practical courses as you can

That's among the bits of wisdom dispensed to new law students by highly respected criminal defense lawyer Ken White over at the Popehat blog.  More specifically, Mr. White advises students to take as many clinics, practicums, and internships as they can.  Further, he suggests that students approach law school as an opportunity to gain practical experience in how to be of service to clients, not as some sort of abstract academic exercise (unless you're one of the very few planning to be a prof).

Indeed, Mr. White offers up a bunch of spot on gems of wisdom for every new law students including take every opportunity to work on your writing, dabble in esoteric courses if you must but make sure you also cover the key foundational courses (like Secured Transactions) you'll need in practice, and embrace your fellow classmates as friends and future colleagues rather than seeing them as the "competition." All solid advice and definitely a post worth forwarding to your students.  Go check it out here: Some Friendly Advice to New Law Students.



August 19, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Harvard Law seeking to hire estate planning instructor for veterans' rights clinic

Here are the details:


Position: The Legal Services Center (LSC) of Harvard Law School has an immediate opening for a Clinical Instructor. The position, which is available either as a full-time position or a part-time position, is within the Estate Planning Project of the Veterans Legal Clinic. The Estate Planning Project—through which Harvard Law students also receive hands-on training in lawyering skills—provides free legal representation to low-income disabled veterans on matters such as wills, powers of attorneys, healthcare proxies, living wills, trusts, special needs trusts, guardianships, conservatorships, and probate of estates.

The goal of the Project’s representation is to help each veteran attain the maximum degree of control over financial, health, and family decision making. Many of the Project’s clients have multiple service connected disabilities and/or face chronic or terminal illnesses.

The Clinical Instructor will oversee the Project’s docket, maintain community and pro bono partnerships, represent clients, and train and supervise law students who enroll in the Veterans Legal Clinic and who seek to develop skills in estate planning practice. The position represents a unique opportunity to work in a dynamic public interest law office within Harvard Law School’s clinical program.

About the Veterans Legal Clinic: Founded in 2012 at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, the Veterans Legal Clinic provides pro bono legal assistance to veterans and their families. Our goal is to protect the legal rights of the veterans community through determined, passionate, and effective advocacy. In addition to representing individual clients, the Clinic also pursues broader initiatives to improve the systems that serve the veterans community. To learn more about the Clinic, please visit here.

Basic Qualifications: Candidates must have earned a J.D. at least 5 years ago, have at least 5 years of relevant experience, and be admitted to the Massachusetts bar or eligible for temporary admission pursuant to Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:04.

Additional Qualifications: Candidates should have a demonstrated commitment to social justice advocacy. Prior experience working on veterans issues and/or in clinical legal education a plus.

Additional Information: While this is posted as a full-time position, we are open to considering a part time schedule based on candidate preference. Interested candidates should state in their cover letter whether they are seeking a full-time position, a part-time position, or are open to either possibility. This is a term appointment, currently expected to extend through August 31, 2020. The possibility of reappointment depends on the availability of funding and project requirements.

To Apply: Applications must be submitted via Harvard’s Human Resources website. The posting and online application portal can be found here (Position ID# 46658BR).


August 18, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

An interview with author of "Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation in Law"

Professor Michele DeStefano (Miami) is author of a new book called "Legal Upheaval" that discusses the new set of legal skills she argues the job market is demanding from lawyers. My co-blogger Scott mentioned Professor DeStefano's book here including the publisher's summary and link to purchase it from the ABA. Professor DeStefano is also one of the founders of the "law without walls" project - a multi-law school and business collaboration project intended to foster a dialogue about the skills lawyers need in a rapidly changing job market (and here). Now has an interview with the author in which she breaks down the specific types of skills she believes law students will need to master to keep pace with the demands of a changing job market. These include non-legal, business skills such as the ability to mentor, give feedback, and know technology.  New law grads are also going to need to know how to engage in creative and collaborative problem solving (ed. note: but hasn't that always been the case? Haven't the best lawyers always been the ones who find novel solutions to problems old and new?). But the big one, according to DeStefano, is knowing how to innovate (ed. note: OK, but is that even a teachable skill? Well, maybe . . . insofar as other types of business judgements and decision-making are susceptible to being "taught" through simulations and other experiential techniques that give students a chance to posit solutions, make mistakes, and then get feedback).  Go here to read more of's interview with Professor DeStefano including her advice for students who are interested in developing skills that aren't presently being offered by their law schools.  


August 16, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Michael Simkovic on Online Learning

Michael Simkovic (USC), Should Online Education Come with an Asterisk on Transcripts?


"The ABA recently voted to permit a dramatic expansion of online legal education.

Online education is controversial in higher education.  It is even more controversial in legal education, which relies more on classroom interaction and less on lectures than most forms of higher education. 

Widespread perceptions that online education is lower quality than live instruction in general—and may be particularly disadvantageous in legal education—are backed by numerous peer-reviewed empirical studies."

"Critics of online education argue that it is lower quality, that most students learn and absorb less, and that the social dynamic of the classroom and learning from one’s peers and interacting with alumni is a critical part of education."  "And they point to a rash of cheating and distracted learning, which anecdotally seem to be more prevalent online than in person."

From a study,

"'We find that the students in the virtual classes, while having better characteristics, performed significantly worse on the examinations than the live students. This difference was most pronounced for exam questions that tapped the students' ability to apply basic concepts in more sophisticated ways, and least pronounced for basic learning tasks such as knowing definitions or recognizing important concepts . . .'"

I agree with Professor Simkovic.  A plethora of research has demonstrated that law students need active learning.  This cannot be done in an asynchronous course.  It could be done in a synchronous course, but the course would have to be carefully designed to make certain that all students can actively participate.

(Scott Fruehwald)

August 16, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Karen M. Henning & Julia Belian, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie: Increasing Assessments and Individualized Feedback in Law School Classes

Excellent article on formative assessment:

Karen M. Henning & Julia Belian (Detroit Mercy), If You Give a Mouse a Cookie: Increasing Assessments and Individualized Feedback in Law School Classes.

"Our law school students and graduates need to have sophisticated critical thinking, writing, and problem-solving abilities to tackle the increasingly complex and higher-level thinking demanded of them in law school and the practice of law. Yet, a large number of law students are arriving at law school without those skills, and even more alarmingly, many of those students do not even realize that they are missing these skills or actually believe themselves to be more skilled than they are. Many law students are coming to law school with an inflated view of their own competency, and this overconfidence interferes with their learning by both encouraging them to belief that they know more than they actually do know and by limiting their ability to use feedback effectively. Thus, while the American Bar Association now mandates that law schools incorporate formative assessments into their courses, the formative assessments may not accomplish the goal of developing students’ critical thinking and communication skills unless these assessments are designed to address students’ shortcomings and to assist them in effectively using this feedback. This Article examines the authors’ attempt to address these issues by incorporating regular, bi-weekly short essay quizzes with individualized written feedback into traditional podium law school classes. In the first part of this article, we explore the reasons for deficits in critical thinking, problem-solving and writing in this current generation of law students. In the second part of the article, we discuss basic principles of cognitive science and how these principles help us understand why short essay quizzes with individualized feedback may help law students develop the critical skills and knowledge they need. Finally, in the last section, we explain in detail how we incorporated frequent low-stakes essay quizzes with individualized feedback into our classes and discuss our results. These results, while not entirely consistent, show that student performance can improve through the use of these assessments and individualized feedback."

(Scott Fruehwald)

August 15, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

U. South Carolina School of Law seeking to hire clinical crim prof

Here are the details:

The University of South Carolina School of Law invites applications for tenured or tenure-track positions to begin fall semester 2019. Candidates should have a juris doctorate or equivalent degree. Additionally, a successful applicant should have a record of excellence in academia or in practice, the potential to be an outstanding teacher, and demonstrable scholarly promise. The School of Law is interested in candidates who are qualified to teach in one or more of the following areas: business law, securities regulation, and commercial law. We are also looking for clinical faculty in the area of criminal law.


The University of South Carolina is committed to a diverse faculty, staff, and student body. We encourage applications from women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and others whose background, experience, and viewpoints contribute to the diversity of our institution. Interested persons should apply as follows:


1. Go to: *


2. Enter the posting number for the position for which you are applying, as follows:


* Assistant, Associate or Full Professor (Commercial Law)—FAC00106PO18

* Assistant, Associate or Full Professor (Business Law)—FAC00109PO18

* Assistant Professor (Criminal Law Clinic)—FAC00108PO18


3. Click the link for the position and complete the application.


Although a formal application is required in order to be considered, candidates are welcome to contact the hiring committee with any questions regarding the application process at [email protected]


The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability, protected veteran status or genetics.


August 14, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Important Study: Dividing attention in the classroom reduces exam performance

A new study has demonstrated that dividing attention in the classroom significantly affects grades: Dividing attention in the classroom reduces exam performance by Arnold L. Glass & Mengxue Kang (An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology).


"The intrusion of internet-enabled electronic devices (laptop, tablet, and cell phone) has transformed the modern college lecture into a divided attention task. This study measured the effect of using an electronic device for a non-academic purpose during class on subsequent exam performance. In a two-section college course, electronic devices were permitted in half the lectures, so the effect of the devices was assessed in a within-student, within-item counterbalanced experimental design. Dividing attention between an electronic device and the classroom lecture did not reduce comprehension of the lecture, as measured by within-class quiz questions. Instead, divided attention reduced long-term retention of the classroom lecture, which impaired subsequent unit exam and final exam performance. Students self-reported whether they had used an electronic device in each class. Exam performance was significantly worse than the no-device control condition both for students who did and did not use electronic devices during that class."

Key point: "Consequently, any distraction that reduces mnemonic activities reduces long-term retention."  Read this sentence several times, then give it to your students.

(Scott Fruehwald)

August 13, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Check out this post over at the Appellate Advocacy Blog on AI in the classroom

Loyola (Chicago) Professor of Law and Sidley Austin lawyer Joe Regalia has a great post over at the Appellate Advocacy Blog opining on how Artificial Intelligence might change how and what law professors do in the classroom.  Not only does the growing influence of AI in law practice suggest changes with respect to the substantive law we teach, but Joe also thinks it's going to change how we teach in terms of , for example, the AI tools that can actually draft legal documents.

Joe's post was inspired by a call from Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing for micro-essays about the impact of AI on the LRW classroom. I hope that call will inspire you too to submit your own micro-essay to Perspectives or better yet, perhaps a full length article. Go here for submission guidelines and to peruse previously published volumes of Perspectives (nice alliteration, eh?).


August 13, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Teaching students how the brain changes over time can help them develop a growth mindset

With law school classes starting this week or next for many, here's an important new study from Canadian researchers you may want to incorporate into orientation to bolster student confidence as they inevitably struggle with self-doubt about their ability to do law school level work. The researchers in question found that teaching students about neuroplasticity can help them see their own intelligence as not something that's fixed but instead can be positively affected by developing a growth mindset. Here's an excerpt from Education Week which has a summary of the study:

The 'Brain' in Growth Mindset: Does Teaching Students Neuroscience Help?


Teaching students the science of how their brains change over time can help them see intelligence as something they can develop, rather than innate and unchangeable, finds a new analysis of 10 separate studies online in the journal Trends in Neuroscience and Education.


Teaching students the concept of neuroplasticity—the ability of the brain to make new neural connections as a result of experience—is a common tactic in helping students develop a so-called "growth" rather than "fixed" mindset. But recent research has questioned how much students really understand or benefit from this approach. 


Researchers from the Montreal, Canada-based Laboratory for Research in Neuroeducation at the University of Montreal analyzed 10 high-quality experimental studies of growth mindset interventions on students from age 7 into adulthood that included instruction on neuroplasticity. They looked at measures of students' academic enjoyment, motivation, goals, and resilience after failure following participation in these mindset interventions.


They found that while on average, such interventions improved students' motivation, they particularly benefited students and subjects which prior studies have shown are at high risk of developing a fixed mindset. For example, black students at risk of "stereotype threat"—the fear that one will reinforce a negative stereotype of your student group—showed significantly higher increase in motivation and enjoyment of science after a neuroscience-based mindset program than did students who were not at risk of stereotype threat.

 . . . 

Continue reading here.


August 12, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)